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Michael Ardolino

By Michael Ardolino

In last month’s column, I wrote about how the real estate market experiences its ups and downs. A few current trends are an example of how true that is.

Mortgage rates

While mortgage rates dropped half a percent the week ending July 7, they shifted slightly back up the following week to 5.51% for a 30-year fixed mortgage.

Keep in mind that the rates we have been seeing are still historically low, even with experts forecasting that the Federal Reserve will boost rates by ¾ of a percentage point at its next meeting.

Some financial experts believe we are headed toward a recession, and you may wonder what happens to interest rates in that scenario. Due to fewer people taking out loans, banks may offer interest rate programs to incentivize people. Currently, interest rates are still very low and can be locked in.

Inventory trend

After an extended seller’s market, there still isn’t enough inventory to keep up with the demand. Keep an eye on mortgage rates, though. Some may decide not to buy or sell, thinking they’ll get a better deal by waiting. This may not be the best decision for buyers or sellers and may also lead to an inventory increase. 

Experts are now forecasting that the increase will be more than 9% by the end of 2022, which means more competition. This increase will not occur instantaneously; it will take some time. Get that For Sale sign up before your neighbor does.

Foreclosures may play a factor in inventory increases, too. The COVID-19 Eviction and Foreclosures Act of 2020 enacted a moratorium until Jan.15, 2022. 

While experts are seeing a steady climb in foreclosures throughout the country, the ATTOM U.S. Foreclosure Market Report shows New York’s foreclosures are 13.3% less than the same period in 2020. It’s a trend to keep an eye on as the more houses foreclosed on, the more properties are available to buyers.

Another factor is the federal act helped slow down foreclosures during a time when homes were appreciating. For some who were about to default on their mortgages before the moratorium, they can now sell their homes for more money and pay off what they owed.

To touch on appreciation, according to a One Key MLS report, median sales prices in Suffolk County showed a nearly 11% increase from June 2021 to June 2022.

Here’s more good news for Suffolk County. In the last few months, the majority of homes were still selling in less than a month and about 23% quicker than they did last year during the same period. 


It’s all about pricing. When talking to a real estate professional, they should discuss current market factors, as well as details of your home, and help you price it accordingly. Also, proper pricing will enable you to sell your home to your timing and pricing expectations.


There are many moving pieces regarding how well a person will do when selling or buying a home. Considering buying your first home, downsizing, moving into a bigger place or to another state before the end of the year, now is the time to discuss your plans with a real estate professional. So … let’s talk.

Michael Ardolino is the Founder/Owner-Broker of Realty Connect USA.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Finally, two years later, we were going to see Billy Joel. We had bought tickets to a concert in April of 2020, which was canceled because of the pandemic. The rescheduled event last year was also delayed.

An anticipation had been building that reminded me of the seemingly endless three years between the end of the Star Wars film “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”

Within a few blocks of the stadium, we ran into the heaviest traffic we’d experienced in Charlotte, North Carolina since we arrived four years ago. My wife asked if I wanted her to park the car so I could make sure I was in our seats on time. I declined, knowing I didn’t want to experience any part of the evening without her.

While we sat in our car, waiting for the slow line to move, we watched as many of the people heading to the stadium were our age or older. We were either being nostalgic or hoping Billy Joel’s music could be our musical time machine.

We arrived at the stadium well before the 8 pm start time, where every seat gradually filled. When Joel started the concert at 8:30 with “My Life,” the packed crowd roared its heartfelt approval.

The weight of time — the two years anticipating this concert and the decades that passed since I first enjoyed the song’s lyrics and melody — quickly slipped off my shoulders.

Flashing lights from the stage and enlarged images of Billy Joel’s 72-year old fingers dancing across the piano keys created a visual spectacle. Accompanied by saxophone and trumpet players who would have blown the roof off the building if there were one, Joel thanked the crowd for coming after a long delay.

With songs from several albums through the 70s and 80s, Joel shared some of his biggest hits. People in the crowd played their own version of the show “Name that tune,” shouting out the song’s title as quickly as possible.

Thanks to Linda Ronstadt, who Joel said encouraged him to play “Just the Way You Are,” he included that love song. Joel said he and his wife, for whom he wrote that song, got divorced, so people shouldn’t listen to him.

But listen to him and his music we did. When the lights were off, the packed crowd swayed back and forth, holding up cell phones with lit camera lights, the way previous generations of concertgoers held up their lighters.

As he’s done at other concerts I attended, Joel stopped singing and the band stopped playing during “Piano Man” while the audience sang the chorus, “Sing us a song you’re the piano man. Sing us a song tonight. Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody and you’ve got us feeling alright.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a smirk and goosebumps.

Swaying and singing in our seats, we were active participants in this long-awaited evening out, allowing ourselves to enjoy moments of unity.

Not as spry as he’d been decades ago, Joel moved more gingerly. He still shared his storytelling and lyrical voice, captivating an appreciative crowd. In between tunes, he noodled at the piano, as if he weren’t in an enormous football stadium in North Carolina below the image of a ferocious panther but was, rather, in a piano bar somewhere in New York City. He said the “key” to his longevity was “not dying.”

When the nighttime air got too hot for us, a light wind, which is uncharacteristic for Charlotte, washed over our skin. Leaning in, my wife smiled and whispered, “cue the breeze.”

The music itself reached much deeper than the wind, refreshing our souls and allowing us to revisit people like Sergeant O’Leary, the old man making love to his tonic and gin, and the “Big Shot.”

Central Park. Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

man I never met had a profound effect on my early life. Indeed, I could not have met him since his 200th birthday was this past Tuesday.

There are millions of others whose lives he has touched and continue to touch all over the country. His name is Frederick Law Olmsted, and along with a colleague, Calvert Vaux, he designed Central Park in the late 1850s. He went on to design many other parks and public spaces, but Central Park was his first. 

Olmsted was more than a landscape architect, and his philosophy and appreciation of community and human nature were built into his designs. Proving that I am not the only one who feels his importance, I was pleased to notice a special section about Olmsted published in Tuesday’s New York Times. All subsequent quotes are from that section, written by Audra D.S. Burch, with sayings from essays of Frederick Law Olmsted.

“In plots of earth and green, Olmsted saw something more: freedom, human connection, public health…Olmsted’s vision is as essential today as it was more than a century ago. His parks helped sustain Americans’ mental and physical health and social connections during the darkest days of the pandemic. As COVID-19 lockdowns unlaced nearly every familiar aspect of life, parks were reaffirmed as respite, an escape from quarantine.”

Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park. Pixabay photo

And this from Olmsted: “The park should, as far as possible, complement the town. Openness is the one thing you cannot get in buildings… The enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it, tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system… We want a ground to which people may easily go after their day’s work is done, and where they may stroll for an hour, seeing, hearing, and feeling nothing of the bustle and jar of the streets, where they shall, in effect, find the city put far away from them.” 

When people ask me where I grew up, I answer, “New York City,” but I should answer “Central Park.” 

Almost every Sunday without inclement weather, my dad would take us to the park for the day, giving my mom time for herself. It worked out splendidly for him because he grew up on a farm and never liked the urban surroundings in which we lived. It also gave him some uninterrupted time with us since we didn’t see much of him during the work week. And of course it was welcomed by my mother, who then had a chance to sleep in and tend to her own needs. 

Dad would awaken early, make us a creative breakfast that always involved eggs and braised onions plus whatever other ingredients happened to be in the fridge. Never were two Sunday breakfasts the same. Then we would go off, my younger sister and I with him, to “The Park.” 

There were many different destinations once we left the street and stepped into the greenery. We roamed along countless paved paths, over charming bridges and through tunnels (always yodeling for the echo effect), climbed rocks, crossed meadows, watched baseball games on several ballfields, played “21” on the basketball courts (if we had remembered to bring a basketball), watched older men competitively play quoits (pitching horseshoes) and munched on crackerjacks — my dad limiting the three of us to one box. I usually got the prize since my sister wasn’t interested. 

On beautiful days, when longer walks beckoned, we would visit the merry-go-round and ride until we were dizzy. Or we would spend the afternoon at the small zoo. My dad taught me to row on the Central Park lake. And always the air was fresh, the seasons would debut around us, the birds would sing and the squirrels would play tag through the trees.

By pre-arrangement, my mom would appear with a pot of supper, some paper plates, forks and a blanket, and we would eat in a copse or a thicket of brush. Then, as the sun was setting, we would walk home together.

METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

One of the first things we noticed when we moved from the Bronx to Wichita Falls Texas, where my husband reported for duty on the Air Force base in July 1967, was that the city had no delis. Really, no delis. “Where can we find a deli?” we asked people. “What’s a deli?” was the response.

It was then that we learned that a deli, short for delicatessen, was indigenous to large urban settings generally found on the coasts, that made fresh sandwiches and sold side salads from their display cases and bottled sodas from their glass-front, vertical refrigerators. We explained that they were mighty convenient for a quick take-out lunch. Sometimes a few people ate at the handful of tables, but mostly it was an in-and-out experience and one hoped the line would not be too long. “We have diners,” they offered helpfully. “You could probably take out an order from one of them.”

How to describe the difference between a diner and a deli? I had never thought about delis before. I just knew there was one every couple of blocks in New York. Some of them were quite elegant, with imported products, cured meats and cheeses, and even exotic foods, while others, in the neighborhoods, just sold the usual turkey, bologna or ham and Swiss on a roll or white bread.

Ah, but then there were the kosher delis, the ones with overstuffed pastrami on rye and spicy mustard, with a pickle and a soda, maybe even a potato knish on the side. That’s the classic New York deli sandwich. They were the best, and there were fewer of those but enough to feed the discriminating in all five boroughs. Often kosher delis were part of a restaurant in which diners could sit at tables and be served by wise-cracking waiters. Patrons might slurp up chicken soup before they attacked their fulsome sandwiches.

In fact, there were 1500 kosher delicatessens in New York City in the 1930s, brought here primarily by German-Jewish immigrants in the late 19th century. There were fewer than 15 as of 2015, and I’ll bet there are only a handful today. This is how they started, or so the story goes.

A Lithuanian named Sussman Volk, who arrived in New York in 1880, owned a butcher shop on the lower East Side. He befriended another immigrant, from Romania, and allowed the fellow to store his meat in the shop’s large icebox. To thank him, the friend gave Volk a recipe for pastrami, which then proved so popular with Volk’s customers that he opened a restaurant at 88 Delancey Street and served the meat on rye. The creation was soon repeated in delis and became the city’s iconic sandwich.

Delicatessens originated in Germany during the 18th century, started by a German food company called Dellmayr in 1700 that still exists, and spread to the United States in mid-19th century. They catered to the German immigrants, offering smoked meats, sausages, pickled vegetables, dips, breads and olives. Just in case you are on “Jeopardy!”, the root of the word comes from the Latin, “delicatus,” meaning giving pleasure, delightful, pleasing. After WWII, from about 1948 on, they were simply referred to as “delis.”

Today, even supermarkets have deli sections. There are two delis within walking distance in my village and more up and down the neighboring villages. And they exist in many countries with slight variations on the theme. Australia, Canada, Europe (Milan, Paris, Vienna, London, Munich, Zurich), Ireland, they all have delis. They are different from Subway or Jersey Mike’s, or Wawa, which, too, make sandwiches to order. They are also different from McDonald’s or Wendy’s, who specialize in fast food. Some of them have hot prepared foods as well, and all of them require interaction with a clerk behind the counter as opposed to a more digital ordering process. Those clerks may whip up an egg on a roll with bacon and cheese if you ask. Some delis even have small groceries attached to them.

Delis are generally unpretentious eateries that welcome you. For my lunch tastes, you can’t spell delicious without “deli.”

Endurance. Wikipedia photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Like a hand reaching out from its watery grave, the stern of the ship with the name “Endurance” became visible in the underwater drone’s searching beacon of light. A century after the ice crushed and sank the vessel, along with the hopes of explorer Ernest Shackleton and his crew for being the first to walk across Antarctica from sea to sea via the South Pole, the biggest shipwreck discovery since the Titanic connected us with those men a century ago. For many of us, the find was thrilling.

The three-masted ship is remarkably preserved in 10,000 feet of water below the surface ice, and from the photos, even the spokes on the wheel in the stern are hauntingly intact. Armed with the latest undersea equipment, marine archeologists, engineers and scientists, using the last data recorded when the ship sank, were able to find the wooden Endurance, survivor of one of the most heroic expeditions in history, at the bottom of the Wendell Sea near the Antarctica Peninsula. The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust’s group Endurance 22 announced the news. The darkness and frigid temperatures had made such search efforts in the past impossibly difficult but also created an inhospitable environment for bacteria, mites and wood-eating worms that might have devoured the ship. Instead it stands at attention since 1915 on the sea floor.

After the ship sank, Shackleton and his crew of 28 loaded food and anything else they could into three lifeboats and set up camp on ice floes, and when those disintegrated, camped on Elephant Island. 

The Endurance. Photo from Wikipedia

Recognizing that they had somehow to get help if they were to survive, Shackleton, his captain, Frank Worsley and four other carefully selected men sailed across 800 miles of treacherous waters in a 22-foot boat to the nearest place of habitation, a remote whaling community on the island of South Georgia. Once they arrived, they had to scale steep mountains to get to the station on the other side. Shackleton’s decisive and heroic leadership ultimately saved the entire crew and is studied in business schools and management programs to this day. His planning and improvisation made the escape possible.

Shackleton died in 1922. Curiously the wreck’s discovery happened exactly 100 years to the day that Shackleton was buried. And while Endurance was photographed and filmed, nothing was removed or disturbed, and it is protected as an historic monument.

An Anglo-Irishman, Sir Ernest Shackleton was born in County Kildare, Ireland, and moved with his family to south London. His story seems a fitting way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. He led three different English expeditions to the Antarctic, walked to within 97 miles of the South Pole during the previous Nimrod expedition of 1907-09, and climbed Mt. Erebus, the most active Antarctic volcano. For those feats, he was knighted by King Edward VII on his return. Ultimately he led a final expedition in 1921 but died of a heart attack while his ship was moored in South Georgia. He is buried there. 

Despite the fact that he was largely unsuccessful in business ventures and died heavily in debt, Shackleton was voted eleventh in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons in 2002. He was to be the one others prayed to have lead them when under extreme circumstances.

The saga of Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance captured my imagination when I worked for Editor Alfred Lansing at Time Inc. I was 22 and had never met anyone quite like Al before. A volunteer in the Navy when he was 17 (he lied about his age and somehow got in), Al had a reddish-blond crew cut, bright blue eyes, a huge smile and a tattoo on his right forearm well before tattooes were a common occurrence. He smoked unfiltered Lucky Strikes, was one of the best storytellers I had ever met, and wrote adventure stories on the side for what were then called men’s magazines.

It was Alfred Lansing who wrote the book “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” four years earlier which had received a National Book Award nomination. Listening to him tell the story, I was hooked for life on that adventure and the marvel of Shackleton’s leadership. Sadly, both men died at an early age.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Ah, the benefits of an older bladder.

Granted, that’s not generally the case. Usually, I get up in the middle of the night, realizing that the dream that involves the search for a bathroom is my brain’s way of telling me that I need to urinate in real life.

I shift my weight slightly toward the floor, hoping that the rocking motion of my body doesn’t move the bed so much that I wake my wife or the cat sleeping on her, who sometimes sees my movement as a starter’s gun to race toward the table in the laundry room to devour another can of the same food he eats every day.

I slide my feet off the bed and try not to step on our huge dog, who moves around often enough that he could easily be that furry thing under my feet. My toes can’t always tell whether that’s him or just the softer part of the inside-out sweatpants I’ve been wearing for a week. I also try to avoid the other cat, whose tail is like a spring waiting for me to step on so he can shriek loudly enough to wake my wife and terrify the other cat and the dog.

When I reach the bathroom, I try to urinate into the bowl but away from the water to avoid any splashing sound. I retrace my steps back to the bed, hoping the safe places to step on the way out from the bed are still safe on the return.

This past week, the bathroom routine gave me the opportunity to look at a rare event. I watched the extended lunar eclipse, which was the longest it’s been in 580 years. I crept out to the hallway to view it through a window, hoping I didn’t have to go out in the cold to catch a glimpse of Earth’s shadow. I was also concerned that the dog, even at 3 a.m., would fear that he was missing out on something and bark, negating my efforts to enjoy the eclipse in silence.

I was amazed at the shadow that slipped slowly across the moon. I took an unimpressive photo that captured the yin and yang of the light and shadow.

The next morning, I ran into some neighbors on my routine walk with my dog.

After saying how they’d stayed up all night to watch this rare event — they are retired and don’t have any time pressure most days — they started to recount their evening.

“I was tempted to dress in black and howl while I watched it,” the man said.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Well, you know, I figured as long as I was up, the neighbors on the other side who think it’s OK to play basketball at 11:30 p.m. should know I was awake and active.”

“Hmm,” I said.

“Yeah, and the other day, they had a party and threw beer bottles over the fence into our backyard. It took until late in the day for them to pick them up.”

“That’s terrible,” I said. “Sorry to hear that.”

As I walked back with my dog, who was eager for his post-walk breakfast, I realized we had never discussed the sights from the night before.

Sleep deprivation overshadowed a discussion of the observation of the Earth’s long shadow.

As for me, I was, for the first time, grateful for the momentary need to pee. The evening and the morning interaction that followed brought to the fore a collision of the mundane and the magnificent.

Metro Photo

By Michael E. Russell

Michael E. Russell

To the readers who have missed the Investing 101 column by Ted Kaplan, I have spoken to his lovely wife Elizabeth and will try to follow in his footsteps.

To say that present times are challenging is an understatement. Supply chain issues, higher gas prices at the pump, heating oil and natural gas prices are expected to increase by 60% this season. We have seen shortages at the supermarket and shortages of corks for wine bottles!!! We have housing shortages, federal deficits approaching $25 trillion. We have an economy that is still robust with 10.2 million jobs unfilled.

The 10-year treasury is now at 1.62% and  analysts are expecting an increase to almost 3%. We have not seen rates this high in almost 12 years. A key measure of the bond market as quoted in The New York Times expects inflation to increase by 3% per annum over the next 10 years. It appears that the Federal Reserve will have to take major steps to halt this inflation creep.

In spite of these negative factors, investor’s wealth increased by $9.7 trillion, 23.5% for the year!

That being said, the University of Michigan’s survey stated that this has not trickled down to the average family. Their economic outlook shows the lowest confidence in the economy in more than 10 years. What this says is that employment is up, wages are up, but their income in real terms is down. The Consumer Price Index has jumped 0.9% in October, bringing the year-over-year increase to 6.2%. The most in more than 3 decades!

For many investors, according to Randall Forsyth of Barron’s, the growing concerns about rising prices and interest rates present a problem. In this scenario, bonds may not serve as a buffer in the classic 60/40 equities to bonds portfolio.

Morningstar is looking for a 7.5% gain in equities next year while analysts at Bank of America believe the S&P will be flat.

With all the potential negative news out there, I still believe there are stocks with solid dividends that have potential for growth.

A conservative play is New York Community Bank, NYCB. This bank has over 1200 branches with a dividend of 6%.

I believe that the major energy suppliers are attractive at these levels. Energy demand is high and will continue to be so.  ExxonMobil, XOM, is currently trading at $63. This is 25% below its 5 year high. It is paying a 5.5% dividend.

In closing, let me wish everyone a healthy holiday season.

Michael E. Russell retired after 40 years working for various Wall Street firms. All recommendations being made here are not guaranteed and may incur a loss of principal. The opinions and investment recommendations expressed in the column are the author’s own. TBR News Media does not endorse any specific investment advice and urges investors to consult with their financial advisor. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Nancy Marr

What can we say about our recent election?  In Suffolk the loss of their seats by many local Democratic legislators was a surprise. Although a majority of voters in Suffolk County tend to vote Republican, Democratic legislators had been doing well for many years with little opposition. Was it because voters were critical of the dissension among the Democrats in Washington, as many analysts said? 

Editor and columnist Ezra Klein quoted data scientist David Shor, who said that the Democrats lost many lower income voters, particularly Hispanics, because of their emphasis on issues like defunding the police. Shor also said they should have talked up the issues that were the most popular and kept quiet about the others. Or did the struggle between the parties cause a lot of “no” votes on principal? 

But, coming back to Suffolk County, why were three of the five NYS ballot propositions defeated so profoundly? Many voters reported robocalls urging them to vote “no” for propositions one, three, and four. Proposition #1 would have removed a requirement included in the amendment of 2014 (that first created New York State’s independent redistricting commission), which said that there must be at least one vote from the minority on the maps that are submitted. (The League of Women Voters opposed Proposition #1, believing that it was important to give both parties a chance to have meaningful participation in redistricting).  

Propositions #3 and #4 would have made voting much easier. #3 would have it possible for a citizen to register closer to the day of the election, instead of having to register ten days before the election, as specified in the NYS Constitution. And proposition #4 would have removed the restrictive requirements to get an absentee ballot, allowing voters to vote at home if they wished, or if their work schedule interfered with the election schedule. 

Were Suffolk voters agreeing with voters in many other states who didn’t seem to want to make voting easier? Were the election results just an example of the flow of history? Perhaps the election was the natural response of Republican party leaders who found ways to convince voters to fight to gain control, while the Democratic leaders did not effectively work to get out the vote. There were issues that voters were concerned about: educational issues around teaching black history; privacy issues around mandated vaccinations; and the dilemma of schools being closed for much of the year, that Republican and Conservative campaigners emphasized to build support.   

Many voters may not know how, or do not make the effort, to evaluate the candidates who are actually running and instead rely on information on flyers and social media. The League of Women Voters, which is nonpartisan and never supports or opposes any candidate or party, sponsors candidate debates, on zoom and in person when possible, where candidates introduce themselves and answer questions. 

The League provides information from all the candidates in an online database, VOTE411.org, which provides information to each voter about their registration status, where they will vote, and their entire ballot, including all offices and any propositions.  Newsday and most of the local newspapers also print information about all the candidates and their experience and opinions, explaining why they are endorsing them, if they do.  

Voters who are informed are better able to select candidates who will represent their interests. Voters will now also have a chance to ensure that the election districts for New York State Assembly and Senate and the United States Congress are fair, representing their community and its population. 

Prior to the 2020 Census, the changes in district lines were drawn by a legislative committee, representing the political parties. In 2014, a Constitutional Amendment was passed creating an independent redistricting commission (NY IRC) for New York State. It is charged with revising the district lines to accord with the findings of the United State Census in a manner that is fair and nonpolitical. 

On November 23, the IRC will hold a hearing for Suffolk County at Stony Brook University’s Wang Center. To learn more about the new district lines and how to attend or testify at the hearing, go to https://nyirc.gov/ and review the current maps and the revisions. The testimonies at the hearing will influence the New York State Legislature, which will either accept the maps or send them back for revisions. If after two revisions no plan is approved by the IRC, the redistricting will go back to the Legislature to be drawn.  

The IRC hearings offer every citizen the opportunity to give input about how they will be governed, just as casting a vote in an election will help select a candidate who represents you. 

Nancy Marr is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Visit www.lwv-suffolkcounty.org or call 631-862-6860. 

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Have you ever watched someone who was cheering for their team at a sporting event?

Aside from the potential enormous and mindless consumption of calories in the form of hot dogs, chips and beverages, superfans scream at the players, tilt their heads when they want a ball to move in a particular direction, or beg a higher power to help their player outperform people on the other team whose fans are pleading for the opposite outcome.

As fans, we have little control over the result of a game, especially if we’re watching it on television. Sure, home field advantage likely helps some teams and players, as fans urging their favorites on, standing and shouting at the tops of their lungs could inspire athletes to raise their level of play.

But, really, all of that pleading, begging and cheering into the ether or at the blinking lights on our screens gives us the illusion of control, as if we have some way to influence games.

We generally don’t accept or give up control because we like to think that, somewhere, somehow, our wishes, goals and desires mean something to a deity, a guardian angel, or a fairy godmother. To be human is to hope to control the uncontrollable.

Give me the inspiration to pick the right lotto numbers, please! Let me ride the subway with my future spouse. Keep me from hitting the curb on my driver’s test!

Millions of Americans sit each night with a remote control in their hands, surfing channels, changing the volume and traveling, without getting up from the couch, from a program about ospreys to a fictional story about a female secretary of state who becomes an embattled president. We sometimes revel in the excitement that comes at the point that teeters between control and a lack of control. When we’re young, we ride a bike with both hands. At some point, we take one hand off the bike. Eventually, we learn to balance the bike with no hands, as we glide down the street with our hands on our hips or across our chest.

In our entertainment, we imagine people who have higher levels of control, like wizards with wands or superheroes who use the force to move objects.

When we become parents, we realize the unbelievable joy and fear that comes from trying to control/ help/ protect and direct the uncontrollable.

When our children are in their infancy, we might determine where they go and what they wear, but we generally can’t control the noises they make, even by finding and replacing their pacifiers. These noises are their way of preparing us for the limited control we have as they age.

They make numerous choices, some of which we feel might not be in their longer term best interest. We can see the bigger picture, which can be as simple as recognizing that taking eight classes while working part time at night and joining the marching band is likely creating an  unsustainable schedule. We know how important the basics — sleeping, eating, exercising — are to their lives, even if they make impulse driven choices.

One of the hardest parts of parenting may be knowing when to give them the space and opportunity to make decisions for themselves and to encourage them to learn from their choices.

Parents are lifetime fans of their children, supporting and encouraging them, leaning to the left to keep a ball in play, to the right to keep it out of a goal, or higher when we want their voices to hit the highest notes in their range during a performance of “West Side Story.”

It’s no wonder so many parents are exhausted and exhilarated after a big moment in their children’s lives: we might not have done anything but sit in a seat and clap our hands, but we tried, from a distance and in our own way, to control the uncontrollable.

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Inside this issue is a treasure trove of first-hand information about the candidates and the issues in the coming election. How do I know? Because we, the different members of the editorial board of Times Beacon Record Newspapers, personally interviewed 25 people running for office across the three towns that we serve: Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington. The offices the candidates are running for are all local, which means that these are the officials who will have the most direct effect on our lives. 

The positions range this year from county legislators to town supervisors, town council, town clerk, district attorney and sheriff. We asked them questions without bias, seeking only to understand who they were, what they believed and what we could expect from each of them, should they be elected — or re-elected, as the case might be. The setting in our conference room was relaxed, and we hoped comfortable, with opponents for each office seated together around the table responding to questions put to them by our editors and reporters. 

Sometimes there were four candidates, sometimes only one who might be running unopposed or against a shadow opponent, but mostly there were two during each session. Most of the time, the hour goes by calmly, but occasionally the opponents get testy with each other — they may even become openly hostile.

At one such session some years ago, one of the candidates invited the other out to the back parking lot “to settle things.” When the other began to take off his jacket, we quickly intervened. But there were no such flare-ups this year. 

The answers were timed in an attempt to get to the main ideas without running on too long. There was ample time at the end for each visitor to tell us anything more that perhaps we hadn’t elicited with our questioning. 

We have written up the details of each interview in a separate article for the election section. And we discuss the candidates at the end of each hour and come to a conclusion for the endorsement. 

Most of the time, the editorial group was unanimous because the choices were fairly direct. But for a couple of races, we talked over the pros and cons of each candidate at length before making the selection. These endorsements are based on both the in-depth interviews and the considerable information we know about the incumbents since we have been covering them closely throughout their terms in office. Of course, after reading the stories, you may or may not agree with our conclusions. Our job is to get you thinking.

The many hours that are given to this task, throughout the month of October, are a service for our readers. We are privileged to enjoy an extended face-to-face time with those standing for election, and we feel an obligation to pass along whatever information, facts and impressions we gather during these sessions. We sincerely hope we help in the sometimes-difficult job of casting a responsible vote.

Each year we include in the election section a sample ballot that we are able to procure from the Suffolk County Board of Elections because readers have told us that it is a great advantage for them to receive the ballot at the voting poll already knowing how it is laid out.

Our editorial board is made up of staffers with different political leanings, but when we put our journalists’ hats on, we try to judge each race strictly on the merits of the opposing candidates. And while it is technically possible for me to be tyrannical about the final selections, that is almost never the case. We decide by majority rule.

Sincere thanks to the talented staff who join in this extra work each year. We truly believe that we are watchdogs for the people, and nowhere is that more necessary than in reporting about government and its office holders. We hope we have helped you, whether you read by newspaper and/or online. Now please vote.